Transition Out of The Military Can be a Daunting Experience for Military Soldiers

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Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller was sentenced on Friday to receive a punitive letter of reprimand and forfeit $5,000 of one month’s pay after pleading guilty to all charges stemming from his public tirades against top military and civilian leaders.

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Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston wants leaders to stop scheduling training just for the sake of it. Instead, he wants soldiers to make time for something very important.

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What follows is a long article written by a soldier going through transition to civilian life. I am using it to help those who may be struggling since they left the military:

A veteran’s ordeal after hanging up the uniform in an America he doesn’t recognize

Nothing had prepared me to live.

Sitting at the required transition briefing at my last military duty station, I watched a ridiculous civilian brief a room full of soldiers about our Veterans Affairs health and educational benefits.

I zoned in and out until he said, “Not everyone thinks your service is a good thing.”

My mind slowed down.

Before my eyes flashed all the news articles I had read about veterans leaving the service and landing amazing careers.

Weren’t headhunters recruiting Army junior officers like me? Wasn’t I being thanked every time I stepped outside the base for my service?

He was greatly misinformed. America loved its warriors.

Even if things were difficult for veterans, I was surely an exception. As an Army captain with command experience, with multiple degrees, and with combat time, as far as I was concerned, I was a damned unicorn

Then I left the confines of the base, took off my uniform.

Months and months after applying and applying and applying to hundreds of openings, I sat across from a human resources representative for a “military friendly” company. She had heard me speak at length about my service and deployments. She glanced at the resume I had specifically crafted for the job opening of head basket weaver. She calmly put down my paperwork, looked me in the eye, and said:

“Yes … yes … ” as she waved away my service with her hand, “but you have no real experience, do you?”

In the lobby sat another officer far more accomplished than I, awaiting an interview. The day after, there would be more. It wasn’t the last time I would encounter this.

My service wasn’t an accomplishment. It was a liability. It was just missed years of real employment—as far as I could see.

I started to see my visits to “hero” job fairs—with recruiters who looked dubiously upon my multiple degrees and combat experiences—as a financial and mental health liability to me. They offered no possibilities beyond accepting a resume, then citing a “poor fit” for any positions. One offered me a minimum-wage security guard position, knowing I desperately needed the work.

Where were the former officers from Forbes magazine and the poster children of Fortune 500 military websites? The real unicorns had fled the stables.

I was searching. I was searching for good examples of veterans who had left and hadn’t killed themselves or hooked themselves on drugs or lost their best selves in dead-end employment.

I was looking for an employer who wouldn’t treat me as the solution to years of fiscal monsters. The personnel mismanagement gods expected me to deliver a solution, like all mythical heroes, like those “skilled in the ways of contending” do.

I had become so wrapped up in my employment that I couldn’t see around me.

My children were growing like grass while I kept watch over at the distant sandstorms of Iraq, as if I were still driving there and wishing at times I was.

So I put away my service in a box and worked through Veterans Day. I watched resumes come across my desk that dripped in military acronyms, ones I knew would never see the light of day. I read another beautifully crafted document where the veteran had reduced his entire military officer service into a single line.

But the more I ignored who I was, the more I was reminded by my coworkers and others.

“This is probably cake compared to Iraq, right?”

“I don’t think I could have done what you did.”

During formal introductions at a company event, I hear the dreaded question come, from a tall man with salt and pepper hair.

“Where did you work before?”

I took a breath and recounted and, as an afterthought, added, “I was also in the military for a bit.”

His eyes lit up. I clenched, waiting for the usual formal questions about my sanity and the later casual questions about how many people I had killed.

Instead, he said, “Follow me.”

I resisted saying, like all good soldiers, “Lead the way.”

I walked down the hallway into his office. On the wall, hanging, were the requisite degrees and family photos.John Thampi in Tallil, Iraq, in 2005, where he served as a second lieutenant. Photo courtesy of the author.

John Thampi in Tallil, Iraq, in 2005, where he served as a second lieutenant.

In between all of them was a smudge of green—a younger version of him, standing among a group of men from the Ranger Battalion. I turned to him, eyes widened. He laughed..

It wasn’t the only time I would meet men and women like this. The veterans I had looked for in posters and magazines were all around me. They were doing what I felt I was doing, working and living, quietly and without a narrator’s voice in their ears.

I recall sitting for an interview debriefing. The company I worked for had reviewed multiple candidates, and some veterans and the HR manager asked me, “So what do we look for? What badge, what years of service, what locations?”

What was the combination that ensured the company got a mythic corporate hero instead of raving suitor-killing lunatic?

I didn’t have an answer then.

Maybe if they had the patience to hear it, I would tell them the protagonist never really comes back. Rather, it’s his friend who returns to an America he doesn’t recognize. He adjusts, and studies to become a teacher, and attends baseball games again, getting used to large crowds. I would go on to explain that he is married now and has children, and that he refuses to define himself by his service.

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A reminder that I have a new book coming out soon. It is called, Signs of Hope for the Military: In an Out of the Trenches of Life.

There will be many chapters sharing my time in the military, plus many more that speak specifically about PTSD, war wounds, depression, etc. It also is a book for all of those who suffer from “battle fatique,” and many other problems once you get out of the military.

I suggest you come back to this site often, because I will be sharing more excerpts for you to read. Better yet…go to the top of this page and click on “subscribe.” When you do all future posts will come directly to your inbox.

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So…how are your days going? Too long? Hate to go to sleep at night?

FEAR NOT!!

There are over 13,250 fellow veterans here on this site who have your back.

However, it the road is too rough for you to walk, GET HELP!!

Here is a toll free number to call 24/7. There are highly qualified counselors there to help you, and they will not hang up until they know you are OK.

1-800-273-8255…texting 838255.

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Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

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The Afghan War May Be Over, But its Scars Will Last Forever

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Military news….

The last U.S. military aircraft has left Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, marking the final moment of America’s longest war. The conflict left thousands of American troops and Afghan citizens dead and injured and shaped an entire generation of American service members.

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As the ground war in Afghanistan comes to an end, the military’s mission elsewhere continues, like in California, where Air Force Tactical Air Control Party members are helping firefighters battle wildfires. But they are not calling in airstrikes like they would in a combat zone. Instead, they are doing something much more useful.

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Sometimes good news comes in the strangest forms, like when a Navy challenge coin saved the life of an Oklahoma police officer by stopping the bullet that would have hit his femoral artery.

Even if Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss knew he would die in Kabul, he still would have deployed there, said his wife Alena, who survived Knauss after the Special Forces soldier was killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan last week. The 23-year-old was a remarkable man.

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My view…

Yes, the Afghan war is over, but its scars last for ever.

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Another reminder is that I have slowed down my sharing of excerpts from my upcoming book. Signs of Hope for the Military: In an Out of the trenches of Life.

Speaking of trenches, one of my sections of the book is called, Voices from the Trenches.

These will be actual interviews from soldiers who have been deployed to a foreign land. Many of the interviews were very hard for me to do. They talk about death. They talk about lost buddies.

They talk about near death experiences. Some are even funny.

Stay with me on this. Please go to the top of this page and click on “Subscribe.” When you do, all future post will come directly to your inbox.

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Is your world controlled by nightmares? Are there things you try to forget, but can’t?

FEAR NOT!

There are over 12,900 fellow veterans here who have your back.

If the nightmares are overcoming you, GET HELP!

Here is a toll free number to call 24/7. There are Highly qualified counselors there to help you. They ill not hang up until they know you are OK.

1-800-273-8255…texting 838255

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Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

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+If you like what you see, please subscribe at the top of this page where it says, “subscribe.” When you do, all future posts will come directly to your inbox. Also, if you know some else who could benefit from this site, please let them know.

Too Many Veterans are Harassed Once They Get Into Civilian Jobs

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Military news…

A British paratrooper made himself at home in Atascadero, California on Wednesday when he crashed through the roof of a suburban kitchen during a training jump. The soldier hit the tile roof and fell right through, prompting a neighbor to call 9-1-1. Miraculously, the paratrooper suffered only minor injuries.

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Army Gen. Austin ‘Scott’ Miller, the longest-serving U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has stepped down from his post.  Miller’s exit marks another symbolic milestone as the U.S. prepares to wrap up its part in the decades-long conflict.

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Veterans Suffer Hearing Loss at a Higher Rate Than Their Peers
The American Academy of Audiology estimates that more than one million U.S. military veterans receive disability compensation for service-connected hearing loss. In fact, hearing loss is the number one service-connected disability amongst veterans, with former military members experiencing 30% greater hearing loss than the general population.

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Show us all the amazingly awful tattoos you got in the military. There was a call for images of readers’ fantastically trashy hats that they may or may not have gotten after a bender with the last of the money left in their wallets. There’s no shame or judgment here, and whether the ink is of a zombie Hello Kitty wearing a flak jacket or a Teletubby riding a tank, we are here to applaud it.

Read more about this proud military tradition, and find out how to submit your own, by checking out James’ entertaining piece here.Veterans Suffer Hearing Loss at a Higher Rate Than Their Peers
The American Academy of Audiology estimates that more than one million U.S. military veterans receive disability compensation for service-connected hearing loss. In fact, hearing loss is the number one service-connected disability amongst veterans, with former military members experiencing 30% greater hearing loss than the general population.



Maj. Gen. Robert Castellvi has been fired as the Inspector General of the Marine Corps for failing to fully prepare his Marines and sailors ahead of a training exercise last July in which nine service members drowned when their amphibious assault vehicle sank.
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But Castellvi may be only the first of several general officers to be disciplined over the sinking. Learn more by reading Jeff’s first-rate story here.“I looked back and saw that the rear end of my right wing was all in flames. ‘Oh, man, I’m hit!’ I yelled.” That’s from Lt. Col. Rob Sweet, the Air Force’s last serving prisoner of war, who retired on Saturday after 33 years of service. In this story by yours truly, I write about the time the A-10 attack plane pilot was shot down over Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. Sweet was then held captive for 19 days, released and went on to mentor countless young airmen during his long career.
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Another Excerpt from, Signs of Hope for the Military. In and Out of the Trenches of Life.

There is Never a Time When You Don’t Have a choice

In the military you are faced with many orders. Go here, Do this. You expect that in the military and since you decided to enlist, you should live the life that has been given to you there.

However, out in civilian life it is a different story, People will also be barking at you to do this and that.

I have hear people say, “I had to do it because I didn’t have a choice.”

There is always a choice! We never have to accept our fate because we feel we have no choice.

We need to acknowledge that we have the same rights of others around us.

Have you had a boss threaten you if you didn’t do what he asked? It is OK to give out directions, but never OK to threaten. The people in the private sector need to realize that they are all working together just like a unit in the military. They need to respect each employee, and have their back when they need it.

When I first came out I was treated pretty badly by a boss who didn’t like any “youngsters,” trying to infiltrate his group of workers he loved to work with. He did whatever he could to make my day miserable.

When there was a job that was somewhat dangerous, he would make me do it. When it was time for a break, he wouldn’t let me sit with the rest of the men. I let it happen by my own choice, because I didn’t have any other way to find a job quick enough to provide for my family That was with me at the college I was going to.

So I fell for the trap, “I didn’t have a choice.”

Today, you have choices, You have your rights. You can respectfully disagree and not fear of losing your job.

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There is much more to this excerpt so keep coming back to check the site out. BETTER YET! Go to the top of this page and click on “Subscribe,” When you do all future posts will directly to you inbox.

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Wellness check… How are you doing? Have you had a boss have no mercy for you?

FEAR NOT!!

There are over 12,480 fellow veterans here who have your back.

But if it is still happening to you and you are overwhelmed, GET HELP!

here is a toll free number to call 24/7.

There are highly qualified counselors there to help you. They will not hang up until the know you are OK.

Never be pushed around anymore.

1-800-273-8255, Texting 838255

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Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

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+If you like what you see, please subscribe at the top of this page where it says, “subscribe.” When you do, all future posts will come directly to your inbox. Also, if you know some else who could benefit from this site, please let them know.